posts 1 - 15 of 24
Boston, US
Posts: 350

On Wednesday, assuming all goes well, you will have watched Schindler’s List. We will most likely not have heard from one of the few remaining survivors, Rena Finder (age 94), but on Thursday in class we will probably hear a bit from her on film. Rena is not well at the moment, but she is eager to receive and respond to your questions. So as part of this assignment, you are to pose at least one question for Rena.

A note: I have tremendous respect for the array of reactions that I anticipate you will have in response to the film. Some of you will be emotional while others among you will want to reflect and digest individually what you saw and heard. There is no "right" response, but I have complete respect for you and your peers as you respond to the film with maturity and sensitivity.

Now, I'd like to hear your overall reaction to the film. You are invited to take your remarks in whatever direction you wish. Know too that we will talk about the experience overall in class. Moreover, there is a boatload of literature on Oskar Schindler and the events described in the film; let me know if you would like to read some of that material.

That said, a few questions/issues I ask you to ponder and discuss in addition in a post:

  • When Schindler talks to Amon Goeth, the commandant at Plaszow (played by Ralph Fiennes in the film), about being able to “pardon” people, what does he mean? What is Schindler’s underlying view of power, in your opinion? What is Goeth’s view of power?

  • The film depicts innumerable terrible events, placing people in desperate and horrific situations. Some people took on roles that saved their lives; others refused to do so. Still others avoided risk, while various individuals chose to take tremendous risks to save themselves and others. We see compliant workers in this film, black market smugglers, Jews turned “Judenrat”—a police force staffed by Jews but working for the Nazis within the ghetto that could move you from the “bad” line to the “good” line, etc. People crossed plenty of moral and ethical lines in the film. Where would you draw the line? What is the line that cannot be crossed? What action can you NOT take in order to save your own life?

  • What made Schindler take the actions he took? Why did he seem to “change”? Was he heroic? In other words, how and why did he shift from being a “bystander” to an “upstander”?

  • At the end of the post, in a separate paragraph, pose a question for Rena Finder. Know that I’ll be copying and pasting, combining similar questions/topics and getting her to respond.
lil breezy
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Thoughts on the actions of Oskar Schindler

There are little words to describe how the film made me feel. All I know is that it gave me such an immense insight on the Holocaust. When Ms. Freeman said the reality was 10x worse than the movie, it sunk in even more. One thing that stuck out to me was the deaths of certain characters we never go to meet. For example, when they killed 25 men, it just showed how disposable Jewish people were to the Nazis. I noticed a lot of the Jewish people who were killed seemed to be expecting it. While most showed fear, I noted that rarely was someone screaming. The engineer was the second to die, and she was scared, but instead of pleading with the Nazis, she let them know that her death wouldn’t fix anything. It seems empowering, but it is also terribly sad. These people had been suffering for so long that at this point they just accepted they would be brutally murdered at some point. They had endured so much that being enslaved by Shindler was a “safe haven.” Even when the war was over, there were no cheers. You can tell that most of the Jewish victims had lost any hope of the war ending, and so when it finally happened, there wasn’t really a reaction. They also had lost everything, and so they had no direction. I would also like to mention that the film should have focused more on the Jewish people rather than the savior mentality of Shindler. Yes, compared to the other Nazis and camps, Schindler wasn’t as cruel, but he was still enslaving all of these people, and he still supported Hitler.

I think Schindler views power as something that you can use to achieve something else. For example, he used his power to save many lives. On the other hand, Goeth views power as a never ending supply. He craves it, and soon becomes dependent on it, using it to have “fun.” I think an action that you cannot take in order to save your own life is risking or taking the lives of others. Many Nazi supporters or people in Schindler’s position can say that they needed to be a bystander in order to survive, but I don’t think it is worth the millions of lives that were lost. Honestly, I felt like Schindler “changed” because he gained more of a perspective of what was really going on. I feel like if a Nazi were to watch the film, they were take a complete 180, but of course I have no way of knowing. I think that Shindler watched how cruel his peers were, and so he saw how cruel he was.

Question: Do you view Schindler as a savior, how do you view him?

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

The film and the way that it depicted World War II was unrestrained and raw. The brutality of the Nazis was never sugarcoated, which, though unnerving at times, is necessary for viewers like me to understand that the impossible was (and is) possible. The most haunting part was when a woman on Schindler’s train to Czechoslovakia sees a young boy smiling and drawing a finger across his neck — signaling his hatred against Jews at such a young age. It is a tragedy that so many Holocaust survivors are not here anymore, but even worse that there are countless stories that cannot be told because of the Holocaust.

While true power is being able to know when to restrain and to administer control, Goeth’s idea of power is much more simple: the unrestrained freedom to do anything to anyone — largely without consequence. To factor in justification and reason into decision-making is one form of power.

“Good” and “bad” and a line between them causes a false binary that does not reflect the movie much. All actions done during WWII have a gray area. For instance, as Schindler realized at the end, though he could have saved more people, he saved only a few. So, I cannot draw a line. However, I can say what I can and cannot do. I cannot be a bystander or witness in the unjust murder of others. I would do whatever is in my power to protect those people.

At first, Schindler was simply your typical capitalist looking to make as great a profit as possible — going to far to use slave labor. Seeing the inhumanity of the war, however, changed him. He was in the position to save lives and took the opportunity to leverage the privilege and connections he had. To me, this is what distinguishes a bystander from an upstander. An upstander puts themselves or is already in the position to take action, and acts on it even if there are repercussions. A bystander has the ability to or is in the position to take action, but does not.

My question for Rena: Did you ever lose hope during the war? What kept you going? Is there a particular story of humanity that you experienced or witnessed?

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

Schindler's List

When Schindler talks about “pardoning” people, he meant that the Jews must be spared from the harassment or senseless murder of the Nazi soldiers. The way that Schindler portrays “pardoning” people is through the way he describes power. Schindler believes that power can stem from more than just making an example out of someone, as power can also stem from influence and fear. The example Schindler brings up, where a criminal is brought in front of the emperor, yet the emperor does not execute the criminal. The criminal has no worth to the emperor, so there is no need to kill him. However, part of this example can be linked to Schindler trying to manipulate Goeth to not senselessly kill Jews, as well as trying to bring Helen into it. Goeth, on the other hand, believes that making an example out of people is power. Invoking pure fear among his subjects is Goeth’s way of power. However, this same path of power is the reason why Helen is afraid of him and would not reciprocate Goeth’s feelings.

In war, there are many situations that require a quick life or death decision. There are many lines crossed, with many people betraying their own people, community, and even family to save themselves. For me, I would draw the line at killing my own family and friends. The amount of guilt and emotional burden would be too much for me to hold onto. However, I think this statement is also hypocritical of me. I wouldn’t be fine with killing my own family to save myself, but I could see myself killing strangers to save myself. Yet, that stranger is someone else’s child, someone else’s uncle or aunt, someone else’s brother or sister, and even a parent.

Schindler went to extremes to save the number of Jews that he did. He did so much that his ideology had changed from becoming a very wealthy man to using as much money that he possessed to save as many Jews that he could. I think the process he went through that caused him to change was the connection he had with his workers. His accountant was a Jew, his secretaries were Jews, and his workers were all Jews for the long time that D.E.F. had lasted for. I think this allowed him to see that the Jews were actual human beings, not rats or below himself. We can even see this with Amon, when he had talked with Helen in the basement. He stated “These eyes aren’t of a Jew’s”, which showed how internally conflicted Amon was with himself. Jews are supposed to be seen as below him, yet he loved Helen as a human being. This change of perspective is what caused Schindler to go from a “bystander” to an “upstander”.

Question for Rena: When you had watched the movie, what scene in the movie made you feel that you were stuck in that time period again?

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

Thoughts on the actions of Oskar Schindler

Despite all the trigger warnings, the film was somehow way more graphic than I originally expected, but it was an excellent movie and the attention to detail is incredible. I’ve always been interested in learning about the Holocaust and I’ve watched many documentaries and films about it but nothing compares to this. Schindler’s List is REAL and the detail and scenes in this film show how real it really is. What I mean by that is, that it gives perspective to every age group and every gender who are both Germans and Jews and it showcases their feelings and experiences. It gave me a different “wow” factor than anything I’ve ever watched about the Holocaust before because it is a true story. The directors encapsulated the raw emotions and feelings of every person (even the background characters) and it’s hard to believe that Ms. Freeman told us that Rena said living through it was 10x worse than what was depicted in the film. Something that especially stuck out to me is how when Schindler’s workers were getting rescued and returned back on the train, I noticed the other group of Jews leaving the train and getting sent into Auschwitz. The main focus was on Schindler’s workers getting rescued, which was a happy moment for the audience because of the connection we have grown with them, but it was also devastating to notice the other group of Jews being pushed into the camp. That attention to detail there is very genuine and very heartfelt because although a group of Jews were rescued, does not mean every Jewish person was liberated, they were still being prosecuted which was sad. I wouldn’t say I’m an entirely sensitive person, but it was really hard to watch the scenes where the soldiers were blatantly abusing AND mercilessly killing people so I can’t even imagine how traumatizing it must’ve been to witness that in real life.

Schindler was trying to point out how much power they have by being able to alter the course of someone’s life because he views power as an advantage. While Goeth views his power as status and uses it for a corrupt advantage, but Schindler thinks power is more as a gateway and for an advantage in life. When he was explaining it to Goeth, he implied to him that the workers expect to be killed (relating to the conversation he had with Helen about her accepting that she was going to eventually be killed by Goeth). He said killing them does not give you power because he was practically giving them the “satisfaction” of their thoughts because many people have already accepted that they were going to die. Schindler was trying to say that he has power by pardoning them because you change the course of their life by keeping them alive since you give them the unexpected. You have complete control over their emotions and the outcome of their lives. Their life is in YOUR hands and that’s the power I think he was talking about and trying to explain to him.

I would love to be able to say I would’ve helped and sheltered Jewish people if I was a Nazi soldier but I honestly don't think I would’ve been able to do anything. I would feel an immense amount of guilt watching it happen, but in fear of my own life, I would’ve just obliged and done what I was told just not as ruthlessly. Although selfish, to save myself and my family, I would’ve done whatever I was told even though I would feel extremely guilty about it. I wouldn’t have gone around killing them like animals though and I would treat them with humanity. However, if I had connections and money like Schindler did, I would’ve tried to do everything I can to make things less hard for them. Similar to one of the industrialists Schindler spoke to while trying to convince him to relocate his workers, he gave them extra food and kept things as seemingly comfortable for them as he could. I probably wouldn’t have been able to save them from the mass execution, but anything like that I could’ve done to make things more comfortable, I would do it.

I think Schindler is heroic. Unlike many people during the Holocaust, he had remorse and guilt and he changed because decided to act upon it. He understood and witnessed first hand the horror Jewish people were going through and he made an effort to help them. Itzhak Stern, his closest friend and accountant, was a Jew and throughout the film he noticed the distraught on his face which eventually made him realize and actually feel for Jewish people. Being surrounded by Jews all the time helped him understand how horrible things actually were. Even though he portrayed himself as a man who was solely interested in business and only did bad things for the sake of money, inside he was a good man. In the film, he was never once seen beating or killing anyone and he was very adamant in doing all he could for his workers. He knew and remembered all their names and didn't treat them as nobodies like many other people did. When a woman came and begged for him to take her parents as workers, he screamed at her and threatened to arrest her and yet he did end up finding her parents and taking them into his factory which saved their lives. At the end of the movie, when he was crying as he was about to depart, he spoke about how he could’ve saved more people by selling his car and other materialistic things .. it made me so sad :( I was tearing up right with him. I love how Stern was reassuring him that he did enough though, it was so bittersweet because he probably did agree that Schindler could’ve done more and saved more people, but compared to many other people, he did more than enough. I love that Schindler at least had some reassurance that he was not a bad person and I hope he understood how much good he did. I don’t think he was a bad person because despite him being a Nazi, he decided to take action to help his Jewish workers instead of being a bystander and mindlessly killing and abusing them. He made an effort to save them like an upstander would and he DID save them; he saved 1100 people and for that I think he is a hero.

Question: What did you do immediately after the war ended? How did you manage to restart your life when you basically had nothing and nowhere to go?

boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

My Thoughts on Oskar Schindler's Actions

What an amazing movie. It was beautifully shot, the dialogue was human and impactful, every character is so fleshed out including minor ones, it was so easy to get sucked into the world. Which also made the horrible scenes all the more horrible.

Early on in the movie, it gets made apparent that Oskar Schindler is a charismatic guy. Even earlier on, we learn that he's a member of the Nazi party. His story really starts when Itzhak Stern is introduced. Their relationship is really in my opinion what makes Oskar Schindler develop as a character. By the end of the movie, nobody new Oskar Schindler as well as Stern did. An interesting moment that really lingers with me is when the one armed man said God bless you to Schindler like 5 times. When the man leaves, Schindler yells at Stern for hiring the man. But after the man gets shot and killed, Schindler was quick to defend him which is a little unexpected but sort of understandable. Schindler starts off prioritizing business, and slowly and steadily his priorities shift to humanity.

Amon Goeth is a disgusting man. I'd say, to him, power is when people fear you. To Schindler, power is when you are capable of keeping and caring for even the weakest, "most useless" person. That's just how I interpreted Schindler's power quote. It's very apparent that Goeth doesn't feel right when he's not feared. When he tried to pardon people instead of killing them, you could clearly see that he didn't feel right. I love the scene where he looks at himself in the mirror saying "i pardon you" and then looks at his fingernails for a good while and then shoots the boy he "pardoned". I don't really get it enough to put it to words but it's so telling of a sequence to me. And then in a later scene we see him getting a manicure from Helen Hirsch. The way Goeth and Schindler present themselves as people is also very interesting to me.

On the actions of the many Jewish people portrayed in the movie, I don't think I'd be able to draw a clear line on what's right or what's wrong. Schindler said something about how war only ever brings out the bad. I can't really judge the character of anyone in those kinds of situations. That's all I think I have to say on that question. (Also I love how the quote I referred to directly contradicts one of Schindler's earlier quotes about how his business ventures needed war to be successful)(It's all these small quotes and moments that show his slow character development)

There are things I don't 100% get but appreciate. Like the way the candle flame was one of the only things in color for most of the movie.

I think water represents hope in the movie. There are 3 scenes that I can think of with water and they all are really hopeful. The first one is pretty blatantly about hope which is when Schindler sprayed water into the trains with a hose and all the soldiers were laughing while the Jews were reaching out. Oskar is one of the only people to give hope to the hopeless in the movie. Another instance of water representing hope is when a jewish man was blowing on an icicle to make it melt. The last instance is probably the most powerful, which is when the women thought they were going to be gassed but it was only a shower.

My question for ms Rena Finder is what her favorite movie is.

Boston, Massachussetts, US
Posts: 11

Schindler's List

Schlindler's view on power is the idea that by pardoning someone's life, they wouldn't only fear you, but also feel a sense of gratitude. Throughout the film, its clear that Schindler does an exceptional job of creating connections and assimilating with his environment, with the use of charisma alone, Schindler finds himself at the top of society. On the other hand, Amon believes that power lies viewing the lives of other's as worthless. While Schindler makes use of the people around him to increase his perception of power, Amon aimlessly kills undeserving Jews.

I would draw the line in taking the life of my loved ones, I can sympathize with the "Judenrats" since I would do whatever it takes to ensure that my family is safe. Although the guilt of destroying the lives of other's would be present, it wouldn't compare to the death of my family.

Initially Schindler came to Krakow in search of financial gain, he "hired" Jews since it would be much cheaper than hiring Poles. As he came to befriend these people and acknowledge their gratefulness for their work, he saw them as the people they were. Although Schindler was a member of the Nazi party, throughout the movie it seems as though it was purely for financial gain and connections as opposed to hate towards the Jews. The death of the little girl in red as well as his developing connection with Itzhak Stern served as turning points from his self-centered mindset to giving everything up to save the Jews.

Q: How was the transition from the war to attempting to begin a new life?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

There are just no words really to explain how I felt once and while watching the film, Schindler's List. I was shocked not only at the film's portrayal of the brutality but the realistic way in which it was done. The film emotionally affected me quite a bit and I found myself thinking about it throughout the day and now at 9 p.m. I probably will think about it in my dreams. One part that particularly stuck out to me was when the guards were calling Schindler cruel for giving them water on a hot day when they were in train carts that look to be used for animals but they were putting people in there instead. What made that stick out so much was that I had recently re-watched Dumbo and they had been transporting animals in a train just like that and I just drew the connection that these people really did think that if you were Jewish you were " “vermin" they even mentioned that in some parts of the film.

I think by what shouldn't I was saying that power was being able to Pardon someone was saying that you felt the power in yourself to "be the better man”. It shows not only a sign of respect for people but respect for yourself and that's the kind of connection people look for in a leader that would be "powerful". Obviously, him being a horrible man, if you could even call him that, he completely lacked all respect for anyone he considered unworthy as we could see many times when he would just shoot people for fun.

Personally, when it comes to wars and morality I think the line is incredibly blurry since everything is situational and it's really hard to tell and sometimes see the big picture. I draw the line at any type of torture or brutality or discrimination or killing of anyone of any kind for any reason. I honestly have no idea how I would react in this situation. I was thinking about it and could not come up with any cohesive answer as to what I would do if I was on either side, obviously, I had a lot more ideas if I was on the non-jewish side but nothing super clear.

For my question to Miss Finder, I would like to ask what were her first thoughts and the first words to come out of her mouth when she heard the news that the war was over.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

I thought some of the most impactful scenes in the movie were the deaths of some of the Jewish people in the camps. The scenes were no doubt hard to watch, and surely opened peoples eyes to what violence was really happening at the labor camps. Prior to the film I never thought much of work the Jewish people were doing before they were killed. In one of the scenes the female engineer was shot after trying to help and educate the Nazi's on the construction of what they were demanding the jewish people to build. They commanded that she be shot right then and there in front of everyone, yet right after they shot her, they admitted she was right and that they should tear it down and start from scratch as she said. I found this incredibly frustrating to watch and hear because it showed how eager they were to have a reason to murder them despite the ridiculous rational behind it. I also found the last scene where Schindler was apologizing to his accountant for not doing more very moving. He looked at his car and imagined how many more lives he could have saved for the price of it. And then he looked at his gold Nazi pin and thought the same. He thought to himself, I could've saved even just one or two more people for this pin. It was heartbreaking to hear and made me see Schindler differently. It made me think back to his line about having more money than one could spend in a lifetime. Later in the movie we learned he went broke and did all that he could, but we also know how much money he blew on worthless items that he could've spent saving lives.

When Schindler is working to have some of his workers "pardoned" what he is asking is for them to not be sent to Ashuwitz and that they still work at his factory. To Schindler, money is power, at one point in the film he said to his accountant that he had more money than one could spend in a lifetime. He used his money to gain friendships and connections with higher ups in the Nazi forces. To Goeth however, power is to have so much control that he have the ability to do whatever, to whomever, with no consequences.

I thought the Judenrats were very interesting. The more I think about it the more I see why some joined that force. Millions were terrified of the Nazi's, although joining their police force as a Jew wasn't morally correct, I can see how the fear drove some people to the point where they thought working the Nazi's against their own people would keep THEM protected. And some used the power and safety they were given for good like moving friends to "good" lines. As I said I do see why people took this action in becoming a Judenrat, however it's also an action no one should've taken in order to save their own life, because in the end, no jewish person was safe from the Nazi's terror.

I think a big event that made Schindler take the actions he did was when he witnessed the massacre in the ghetto. He couldn't peel his eyes away from the horror and he seemed more interested in treating his workers like human beings after this point. There was also a scene in the film where he was laughed at by the Nazi commanders for directing the man with the hose to give the Jewish people on the trains a few more seconds of water. Although to us it is the bare minimum to at least give humans water, to the Nazi's it was a burden to even give them that, and he was doing all he could to give them just an inch more of kindness. He was heroic to an extent because he was putting himself at some sort of risk for helping as many jewish people as he did. But he is still guilty for his support and allegiance to the Nazis.

Did you feel some relief when the war was over or did you feel this sense of a "what now?" feeling like depicted in the film?

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

Schindler’s list is a movie which is unwavering in its attempt to inform it’s audience about the holocaust through disturbing imagery of violence. Something which strikes me is how quickly violence occurs, as someone can be living their normal life in one moment, and shot dead in the next. However, I think that this violence, while shocking, is quite necessary for the film to get it’s point across.

I think that in this context pardoning holds a second meaning, as what Schindler wants to do is essentially buy workers. In his end speech when he claims that he profited off of slave labor, he is not incorrect. Schindler’s view of power, at least initially, is tied to money, as his journey through the movie concerns him attempting to save people, rather than load his bank account. Goethe’s view of power, on the other hand, seems much more sinister, as he casually murders his jewish worker’s at even the slightest mistakes, thus exacting control.

For me, a line I would not cross is allowing the death of a child. I think this may be because of our evolutionary instinct to protect children, but something about the pure innocence of a child makes it extremely difficult to use them to escape Nazi rule. However, if I actually was in the situation of so many jewish people, I don’t know if I would extend a helping hand. While I think that I would, it is not so easy to do so when your own life is at risk. In general, I think that I would help people where I could, but I definitely would not put myself in grave danger to help another, especially if I was already in a safe place.

Oscar Schindler’s character arc concerns his value system, as he gradually changes his motive from obtaining as much money as possible to helping as many people as possible. This is because of the many terrible events that he witnessed against the jews, and his conscience couldn’t take it anymore. Thus, as things get worse and worse for the jewish people, his empathy towards them increases, culminating in his factory and his liberation of jews from Auschwitz.

How do you think that the trauma and experiences which you had during the holocaust affected your life after it ended? How often do you think about those events? How do you deal with your grief surrounding them?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Schindler's List

I'm still processing the movie, and there are so many thoughts that I don't think I'll be able to verbalize. Overall, I loved the film. I loved that it never tried to sugarcoat any of the atrocities that occurred during the war, and the way it presented everything from the filming to the music. I knew that the film would be graphic, but I didn’t realize to what extent every death and act of violence would affect me. I still don't understand a lot of things in the movie; like I'm still really bad with the names of the Jews, or why certain things were in color, like the girl in red. I think the thing that stuck out to me the most was how quickly the Jews had just slowly begun to accept their tragic fates. Particularly, when Schindler interrogated the girl who worked in Goeth’s basement, and how she anticipated being discarded and killed by Goeth one day. This was even reflected by the boy who failed to clean the bathtub properly, and was killed after being “pardoned.” It’s not as though they had given up, they were just so disheartened by their conditions that they couldn’t afford to think of a life past the Holocaust. I can’t even begin to imagine how much they went through, and how utterly real all of this was for them. No amount of justice could ever justify or make up for what they lost.

I don’t think that it’s possible to say that Schindler was a good person outright, but he was certainly one of the best amongst the Nazis. There’s no denying that he was still a Nazi, a cheater, and an opportunist, amongst other things. But he also had compassion for these Jews, and grew a lot over the war. The sheer difference from the arrogance and control that he maintained in the beginning, to his humble breakdown at the end of the film because he felt guilty for not saving more people was so interesting to watch. I’d argue that Schindler was heroic, as even if his original intentions were for monetary gain, he did eventually end up losing all of it to save hundreds of Jews, which translates to thousands of people today. He saw the injustices being committed and took it upon himself to take action, and accepted the consequences that followed, when most people would have just remained bystanders whilst reaping the benefits. He even managed to force his ideals of power and justice onto Goeth, and even though it didn’t last, that was the closest thing to morals or compassion that the scumbag ever expressed.

My question for Rena is how did she view Schindler at the time? Have her views on him changed as she’s grown older?

Juicy Burger
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 22

Schlinder List: A response

  1. Most movies don’t touch me. Most movies are corny, animated, predictable, budgeted. Schindler’s list was the pure antithesis to most media I consume. I never expected to shudder at the sight of death since I’ve heard and seen death in news, TV shows, movies, and far more. However, the movie depicted the cruelty and insanity of Nazi violence meticulously. The sudden and harsh decisions of Nazi officials with the quick limp of their victims showed all too real the horrors of World War II. I found myself appalled at the violence and feeling distinct anger towards the situation. Despite this cruelty, I was also touched by the ending of the movie: Schindler’s sacrifice and empathy towards the Jews showed me the smallest sliver of light in humanity’s darkest points. This movie does something incredible. It manages to depict the brutality of war with little censorship and still give the watcher hope in humanity. I would LOVE to read more about Oskar Schindler; his life is very interesting, and any perspective on how people lived their lives during this time would be great
  2. I think Schlinder is implying that no future is set in stone when you can pardon someone. Goeth believes that the Jews are below human; he otherizes them and creates a distance between their humanity. This is his vision and as a result believes the Jews have no reason to exist. Ultimately, Schlinder believes that power is a tool that molds change. Power exists in many different ways and hierarchies that can help to empower people. He also realizes the tenuous relationship between power and greed, exploiting the Germans’ greed for money and power. Goeth believes power is an iron fist. People need to exist in hierarchies, and they need to stay in order. This also means that he believes some people are naturally above others, cycling back to his racist and Nazism present in the movie.
  3. This is a tough question to ask. Humans always need to tread the line between selfishness and selflessness, and this is a tough line because we are naturally selfish creatures. Sometimes, we don’t know what triggers us to act proactively against violence or hatred. We see something that goes beyond our moral compass, something that is so morally wrong we cannot exist without a feeling of guilt. For Schindler, that may have been the girl with the red coat dying. For me, I think it is any form of violence. Violence exists on a spectrum: it could be a school fight to murder. Yet, when this violence exists without fair justification, I believe it only opens the door to more unexcusable crimes. Something that I think Schindler realized and many others is that crimes against humanity often don’t happen overnight: they gradually acclimate. Rights are taken away, free speech is gone, respect is dead, then there is localized violence, then wide spread murder. It’s hard to see when the means become the ends, but recognizing the risk of the means becoming an end is a good first step towards proactivity in atrocities.
  4. I think Schindler had a trigger moment. First, when he stood on the horse witnessing widespread violence. Then, when he saw the little girl get killed. You could tell he took a special interest in the little girl; he believed that such a small child should not be involved within this war. But yet, she was, and I think that was enough for him. Violence was getting worse and the Jews would be decimated if nothing happened. I believe he was heroic, there is no denial. He sacrificed his wealth, came into high risk situations, and confronted German officials boldly. Although there are questions about his morality as a whole which @Reneissance points out, I think this just shows how human Schlinder is. No human is perfect, and we shouldn’t expect war heroes to be either. Schlinder shows that good persists in people that could be considered immoral.

My question! What is a contemporary fear or something you wish people would address more about issues like the Holocaust, Nanjing massacre, Holodomor, etc?

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

Thoughts on the actions of Oskar Schindler

When the final scenes of the movie came to a close, and silence overcame us, the audience - that's the moment where I truly, and I'm sure so many others, felt so utterly speechless. I was silent for the entire length of the movie and afterwards I just couldn't bring myself to say anything - I was just unable to process. That was effect of this movie, and I don't think there's any word in any tongue that could truly describe how I felt.

Brutal violence, and death are some things that trigger me very easily - I had a hard time watching the film and I covered my eyes and ears when anticipating an execution or death. There were too many deaths in this film to set apart the one that affected me the most so I'm going to talk about many. The very first death, of the one-armed mechanic, set the stage for me. It showed how willing and simple it was for a Nazi soldier to shoot and kill a Jewish person at random, and at any time. Then with the introduction of Amon Goeth, and the execution of the female engineer, that is when things began to sink in. It gave me a better sense of the sheer cruelty of Goeth and how awful of a man he was. When she was shot I began to tear up - we have roughly under 20 seconds of dialogue from her before Goeth tells the officer to shoot her. Him telling the officer to shoot her reveals to us how meaninglessly he values these people. And then to just give out the order to do exactly what she told him 15 seconds later made me get a pit in my through and gut. The injustice of it all. And that was literally just ONE instance. There are thousands of instances just like that, that we will never ever know or hear the stories of because of the amount of people that were killed, their voices silenced. Another death that struct me greatly was the boy that Goeth 'pardoned' moments before sending him across the camp and gunning him down from his terrace. When Goeth originally walking into the bathroom and spoke to the boy it gave him a sense of false hope, that maybe this man wasn't terrible after all - and then when he misses his first two shots and he knows that he's going to die. I really just have no words to describe how I feel. And then the woman who was bending down to fix herself while crossing the camp, carelessly shot, the woman smoking on the steps, the boy who tried to run away from the troops during the ghetto's liquidation and getting his head blown off. I could go on, but you get the point. There are so many instances to label of this disgusting cruelty, injustice, dispensability, and malice. And then knowing that Rina Finder said that the reality of this film was 10 times worse, makes it all the more unbelievable to wrap your head around. I just can't even, or rather don't know where to begin to comprehend all of this. Then there is the question to be posed: Where was Schindler's place in all of this? I feel like this film definitely spotlighted Schindler through a savior lens - and while yes, his actions did contribute to save all those people, at the end of the day he was still a Nazi. A profiteer of slave labour, and one who for the most part condoned much of this appalling violence. We can't let that go unlooked. I think that this also speaks to his view of power. Schindler's goal, at least at the start of the film, was to make money. He cared not about his workers and got mad at Stern when he had the one-armed mechanic come up to thank him. I believe that Schindler's view of power is centered around money, and having the ability to act with or without it, for better or for worse. Contrasting Goeth's view - which is the ability to make people fear you, and act on that fear to anyone whenever, and wherever and suffer no repercussions for it. In other words Goeth's view of power is having a limitless monopoly of violence. In this case while I disagree with Schindler's opinion of what power is, his definition is the better of the two in this situation. And while I don't think Oskar Schindler was as much of a "good man" as many in the film proclaimed as, I do think what he did for those Jewish people - helping them, sheltering them, putting them to 'work' as opposed to death - was extremely impactful and he deserves to be credited for that. All in all this movie was moving. It gave me incredible insight on what the Jewish people endured and is probably one of if not the most compelling piece of media that I have ever consumed in my life. And I doubt there is much if anything out there that can top that.

Q: How would you describe what you felt when you were finally told that you were free for the first time in years after the liberation and end of the war?

freddie gibbs fan
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

My overall initial reactions to the film are that it was extremely well written/made. I think the artistic choices made elevate the film. In particular the pacing and option to use black and white over color are excellent, and Spielberg seldom uses color to emphasize motifs. The red coat of the girl is seen in color, both on her and in the pile of bodies, which was very hard to watch. The most difficult scenes to view for me were the very graphic violence (blood spurting after gunshots), the tearing away of children from their families, the pile of burning bodies, and at Auschwitz. When the women first stripped and shaved was very powerful because I genuinely didn’t know if they were going to receive a shower or gassing. I felt their suspense for those long agonizing seconds. The last scene that really stuck with me was the marching of Jews into the subterranean passage - leading to the gas chambers. Above pictured was a chimney, puffing out smoke and fire. Knowing what this system was doing felt chilling to the bone, it felt like a system, a way to maximize the efficiency of killing. Not only killing but also the disintegration of people, memories, history, through a chimney. For example at the end of the film it said only 4 Million Jews remain in Poland today which is a current reminder to how recent and blood-curdling successful the slaughter of Jews was. On the topic of Oskar Schindler it was very interesting to see his change of heart, and to be honest I almost cried when he broke down outside his car. When he reflected on the extra lives he could’ve saved with less frivolous spending, the message really stuck with me - we should maximize our opportunities to help others when possible. On a more objective level his transition from anti-hero to hero was incredible to see and journey through. I think the moment we see his change of heart was when Itzhak Stern told him about Amon’s random killings, and he realized that more than his profits were being hurt.

Regarding Amon Goeth and Schindler’s definition of power, I would say that Schindler and Goeth are very different people. Goeth enjoys partying and power tripping while Schindler will use parties to further his business endeavors and keep his temper under control. When Goeth tries to spare those who wrong him in any way (who he would’ve killed before) he finally can’t and shoots a boy soon after he makes a mistake. This reflects his temper and loose-cannon personality(psychopath), which one needs to be a successful concentration camp Commandant.

In a life and death situation such as the one the jews faced, I would say that you can do anything short of seriously injuring or killing another in order to save yourself. Sometimes we might say that we wouldn’t hurt someone else for personal gain but in a life or death situation many of us certainly would. Thinking about it longer makes me think about how crimes like murder are justified to save yourself in a situation like the Holocaust. For example taking two lives of SS guards to save one Jew seems like a no-brainer but I’m not sure where I would draw the line. If I was considering putting another victim down to save myself I would draw the line at murder, I would not guarantee murder for another victim to save myself.

As I discussed before, Schindler changed because he witnessed the atrocities happening around him. Unlike other non-jews he couldn’t just turn the other way or kill without thinking. This was because, at first, he had his business to worry about. He valued its success so much that he needed the aid of slave labor and Itzhak’s guidance. These factors put Schindler in a unique place to view the Holocaust from, and perhaps unlike others, he was no coward and used his wealth to directly buy and save Jews.

Did Rena ever meet/speak to Oskar Schindler? If so, what did she/him say?

Posts: 21

Post Schindler's List

I think he means that anyone can kill someone, or be angry after someone betrays them, but the real powerful people have the heart to look past the mistake and forgive. Forgiveness can be one's greatest asset because it shows that you are above petty disagreements. Also, forgiveness usually comes back in someone's favor in the future which could add to their power. Schindler's view of power is having title and money and most importantly respect. This respect he wanted from everyone no matter their status. While Goeth viewed power as being better than someone, basically having people he could look down on and easily control. They show this difference when interacting with Jewish people becuase Schindler treats them as his equals and humans while Goeth sees them as animals, easily disposable.

I think all these people choose their roles depending on their options. Some saw joining the German side early on as their benefit of survival, while others realized the importance of helping people, whether that be smugglers who did it for their gain, or people willing to risk their lives to save others. I would love to say wholeheartedly I would sacrifice myself for a greater group of people, but in reality, I don't think I would. Like many other people, I would try to save myself and the people I love, becuase it is human nature to put yourself first. I don't think I would ever become a part of the Judenrat though becuase that is actively sending my people to their deaths and morally I wouldn't be able to laugh with German soldiers as my friends and family were sent off to work till they were killed. I would never switch on the people who are important to me, whether that be family or friends, becuase a part of me would die if those people died Overall my limit is somewhere in the middle. I would never go onto the opposing side, who are killing millions of my people but I would also not want to threaten my life and the lives of the people I love by being a hero and standing out.

I believe what made him switch his mind was when he developed a bond and friendship with Itzhak Stern, which makes him start to see the Jewish people that worked for him as his equals and maybe even a makeshift family. Another place is when he sees the little girl in the red coat, both times. The first time he sees her is when the German troops began to liquidate the ghettos and he is watching the chaos from above as people are deprived of their things. He sees the little girl weave through this chaos into a house for safety. Then later in the film, he sees her again, but this time she is one in a pile of babies making their way into a giant pit of fire to be incinerated. This shows his change becuase he finally humanized the countless Jews he saw being murdered. This changes his mindset, making him realize they don't deserve to be randomly branded as inhumane and whipped out.

Question: How accurately do you believe the film portrays real events? What, if anything, would you add, take away, and/or change about it?

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